Higher education is a place of learning and such a space requires the optimal design for a learning setting. While classrooms are an important space for learning in higher education, they are not the only place, where learning occurs on campuses. These spaces outside of the classroom are referred to in ways such as “private study areas”, “writing centers,” and “third spaces”, but in this paper, these spaces are referred to as informal study spaces. These spaces are identified as any space, outside of a formal classroom setting, where students regularly congregate for academic purposes. Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) has a myriad of informal study spaces, old and new, spread throughout the Richmond, KY campus. In order to narrow the study and develop area-specific observations, this study focuses on three select informal study spaces on EKU campus. The informal study spaces analyzed include the Noel Studio, the Powell Student Center, and the Center for STEM Excellence. This research seeks to highlight the history of the identified informal study spaces, their progress through design, and the design's impact on the users of the spaces. The study also identifies what students and staff envision for the future of these spaces. To gain both the staff and student perspectives, a student survey is implemented alongside in-depth interviews, which are administered to voluntary faculty respondents. The progress of the design intents and impacts, significant and observable behaviors, thought processes, or changes in the observed parties, are documented in an ephemera book to give members of EKU tangible documentation of this research.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 5-1-2023


Clint Stivers

Mentor Department Affiliation


Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level




IRB Approval Number (if applicable)




NataliaSmithThesis.pdf (7361 kB)
Creative Piece